Conference Synopsis and Observations
O'Connor, Jean C.
McGowan, Angela K.
Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 2002 Fall; 30(3 Supplement): 210-218
The articles reflecting the proceedings of the first-ever national public health law conference, Law and the Public's Health in the 21st Century, make it clear that public health law is the synergistic intersection of public health practices and the law. This article offers, and reflects on, observations organized around five themes expressed at that conference about the present status of public health law. The first is that public health law is indeed in a renaissance, or period of renewal, as evidenced by the rich history of the discipline and the growing body of scholarship. Secondly, legal preparedness, which offers a framework for action, is a critical component of public health preparedness. Third, law can be practiced preventively to positively impact the public's health, but unguided application of the law as a tool is problematic. Fourth, partnerships between public health and the law and among the professionals in the disciplines that touch law and public health are essential to protecting the public's health. Finally, public health law is in an era of extraordinary challenge, but with those challenges comes great opportunity that must be realized if we are to have excellence in public health practice in the 21st century.
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